Thursday, January 15, 2009

Comedy Gold: The Bowling Pin

There are certain things that no matter how many times you see them, they still make you laugh.

I've decided to do a series of entries about things that always seem to work for me in comedic, dramatic and horror situations. And I am starting with something I've dubbed "The Bowling Pin", based on the shape of the human body and how the whole gag plays out.

The Bowling Pin is a piece of physical comedy wherein the actor involved gets knocked over their body remains straight and rigid, and as they hit the ground, they roll on their shoulder/head with their legs straight up in the air, so they resemble a bowling pin that has been knocked down by a ball.

The moment which I think best exemplifies the Bowling Pin comes from a scene in Bad Santa where Willie (Billy Bob Thorton) and Marcus (Tony Cox) are trying to teach a naive kid to box at a gym so he doesn't get picked on, and one thing leads to another and all three end up on the mat after being struck in the groin. Marcus is struck down below on two non-consecutive occasions, and on the second strike, he ends up going down hard, and hits the canvas as a rigid mass and ends up in this position:

At the time, I thought it was funny because it was a little person ending up in that position, and I thought that only someone like Verne Troyer or Warwick Davis could make that work comedically because it is almost like something out of a cartoon.

And then I saw a trailer for Paul Blart: Mall Cop which had a particular scene end with Kevin James's Blart jumping into a glass door and bouncing off, and hitting the ground like so:

And I laughed hard. It is probably the only good laugh in that movie, but every time I see that maneuver play out, I just can't help but laugh. It is a thing of beauty when I see someone get the Bowling Pin treatment.

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